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There's an interesting post about cissexual/cisgender privilege here. The whole "privilege" concept (or at least the word in this context) is relatively new to me; it's only in the last few years I've been reading discussions about male privilege and white privilege and so on. It's a really interesting area of debate, especially the little things that as a member of the privileged group, you just don't notice. Everyone's aware of the major issues that non-white people* face, for example, but you don't think of the fact that as a non-white person in Britain, nothing "flesh-coloured" (crayons, plasters, make-up, tights) is actually the colour of your flesh.

But the more I read, the more privileges I find there are, to the extent that I feel that all I can do is be aware of them. And in any given discussion, you find people who think that if you have X privilege, you can have no valid opinion on anything to do with that situation, and you should just shut up and listen to the people in the minority group, and do what they tell you. Which, while it may be reasonable, is vastly irritating when it means you're being told you know nothing about anything, ever, and you shouldn't presume to have opinions on it.

Anyway, I'm currently aware I have:



I'd also say I have some sort of Western/ First World privilege, English-speaking privilege (if there is such a thing, but it feels like there should be), and, oddly, when I read checklists about male privilege, I often feel like that applies to me too. Anything else I should be aware of?

* Tell me if "non-white people" is offensive, but I'm using it because I have an irrational dislike of the phrase "people of colour", which seems to be the in term these days.

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( 52 comments — Comment )
caitirin
Aug. 20th, 2008 02:04 pm (UTC)
And in any given discussion, you find people who think that if you have X privilege, you can have no valid opinion on anything to do with that situation, and you should just shut up and listen to the people in the minority group, and do what they tell you. Which, while it may be reasonable, is vastly irritating when it means you're being told you know nothing about anything, ever, and you shouldn't presume to have opinions on it.

That really irritates me!
redatt
Aug. 20th, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's ever happened to me except when I've been assumed to be male, heh!

On the whole I've only ever been told, though not in so many words, that being privileged I couldn't possibly ever have a true and complete understanding of what means to be x, y, z. This is irritating (because I'm not completely lacking in empathy however emotionally stunted I may be *g*), but I 'get' it and accept it for truth -- part of the reason most people can empathize is because a some point they've been on the receiving end of someone else's privilege.

Lately I try to take it as a challenging to own my prejudices, but that's not to say that I'm not still obnoxiously resistant most of the time.

~Goes off to re-watch John Cleese, Two Ronnies sketch about class~
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pentane
Aug. 20th, 2008 02:26 pm (UTC)
I'm of the opinion that anyone offended by the phrase 'non-white people' is pretty much going to be a priori offended by anything you do.

Wasn't there some discussion in your LJ before about the fallacy of 'if you don't agree with me you're not smart enough to understand why I'm right.'?
pickwick
Aug. 20th, 2008 08:30 pm (UTC)
It's hard to tell, these days :S If you go on feminist or debunkingwhite, not using whatever phrase the academics are using at the moment can get you shot. Well, virtually.

Might well have been - it's an argument I see a lot, and I try not to use, though sometimes it's damn tempting!
sovietkiki
Aug. 20th, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
I hate the whole idea of privilege. OMG I'M WHITE SO I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT TO AN OPINION ON ANYTHING EVER. Yeah, except, NO. Argh. D:
pickwick
Aug. 20th, 2008 08:33 pm (UTC)
See, this is the problem! I think the concept of privilege is fine, and it's helpful for people to be aware of the privileges they have, but when it's just used to dismiss or demean the privileged people, it's utterly counterproductive.
endless_psych
Aug. 20th, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
but you don't think of the fact that as a non-white person in Britain, nothing "flesh-coloured" (crayons, plasters, make-up, tights) is actually the colour of your flesh.

Despite the fact I am sure that statement could be proved wrong quite easily depending on individual pigementations and such.

The whole notion of priveledge (of any kind) invariably makes me go "...and the purpose it serves is?..."

Theres a point that the sort of logic and infinite regress that brings concepts of priveledge to the fore won't go beyond and that point is that everyone, in relation to at least someone else, is priveledged.

Power DOES NOT operate like a chain. It operates more like a network.
endless_psych
Aug. 20th, 2008 02:45 pm (UTC)
Some might say that sll that priveledge asks that you do acknowledge social inequalities however I think that tying the ideas of priviledged and unpriveledged to it means its merely a "more PC" (How I loathe to use that as a pejorative - what I mean is its merely a modern way of...) of pointing at the less desirable/less equal groups in society.

Only this time instead of cracking whips or refusing bus seats what we're doing is going "oh isn't it a wee shame".

Patronising to say the least. Progressive? Not as much as theorists and follwers might have us believe.
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pisica
Aug. 20th, 2008 02:57 pm (UTC)
I suppose a problem with 'non-white people' is that one is using 'white' as the default and describing everyone else (and lumping them together) in relation to that.
pickwick
Aug. 20th, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)
True, but in this case - and in discussions about the topic in general - lumping them together is what I'm trying to do, in as much as everyone who isn't white has similar problems with white privilege/racism. (I know this is a vast generalisation, but sometimes you have to make them!) If I was talking about a particular racial group, I'd specify.

The "default" thing, yes, but I can't think of a term that doesn't do that, I don't think. "People of colour" tries, but it doesn't really work unless you use, I dunno, "people not of colour" every time you want to talk about white people.

Edited at 2008-08-20 08:46 pm (UTC)
redatt
Aug. 20th, 2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
And in any given discussion, you find people who think that if you have X privilege, you can have no valid opinion on anything to do with that situation, and you should just shut up and listen to the people in the minority group, and do what they tell you. Which, while it may be reasonable, is vastly irritating when it means you're being told you know nothing about anything, ever, and you shouldn't presume to have opinions on it.

The un-privileged privilege?

Tell me if "non-white people" is offensive

Being 'white' I wouldn't like to judge, but I dislike it as much as I do the term People of Colour*. Which is to say: not very much, but enough to wish I could think of something else!

Non-white seems to imply that the default is white and that all people who are not white are 'the other', 'the them' and not 'the us' (at least when a white person uses it, anyway), and seems in that way to be a yet another example of white-privilege.

*Which is often shortened to PoC and my tiny brain always translates it first as Pirates of the Caribbean :~D

Edited at 2008-08-20 03:07 pm (UTC)
san_valentine
Aug. 20th, 2008 03:27 pm (UTC)
Why not simply say 'non-Caucasian'. Or is that not used now becaise it's too difficult a concept for the dumb majority to grasp ?

Edited at 2008-08-20 03:28 pm (UTC)
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nextian
Aug. 20th, 2008 03:28 pm (UTC)
*g* It might be indicative of the truth of some of these categories that everyone who's commented so far is white. Unless I'm tragically missing something.

It is irritating, but I tend to sit there and bite my fist and think, yes, it's irritating, but not as irritating as being told that you're subhuman because you're not white/cisgendered/straight etc., so by and large this is payback.

One of the artifacts of (Western? white? some) privilege is the assumption that with enough study and time anyone can become an expert on a topic, especially me! so it's hard to hear "no, seriously, you're never going to be able to learn this." But they're not saying "shut up and don't think about it"; they're just saying you're never going to be an expert the same way someone living with it could be. Which is annoying, but ... probably true, eh?
redatt
Aug. 20th, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC)
It might be indicative of the truth of some of these categories that everyone who's commented so far is white.

:~D
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dermfitz
Aug. 20th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
I get so annoyed by this idea I'm not allowed to speak about the *thoughts I might have* because I am of a type *perceived by the person who is not allowing me to speak* that I lose all patience for the concept of privilege.

OH BUT THAT IS LIKE WHAT WHITE PEOPLE AND STRAIGHT PEOPLE DO TO MINORITIES.

Excellent, now can we have a discussion instead of just constant framing of that discussion to win points? Thanks.
pickwick
Aug. 20th, 2008 08:59 pm (UTC)
On debunkingwhite they have a thing about discrimination bingo - that you can't claim knowledge or superiority in a race discussion because you're a member of X other discriminated-against groups. Sadly, the act of pointing out discrimination bingo has just become, yes, another way to win points without actually discussing whatever point the person brought up.
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gwinniegirl
Aug. 20th, 2008 04:37 pm (UTC)
I agree we have privilege in many forms such as the ones you've mentioned. I don't agree we're not allowed an opinion on it. You should always be able to say what you think about something, as long as you've made the effort to build the appropriate bridges of understanding surrounding that privilege.
pickwick
Aug. 20th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
I suppose the question then is about how much you have to have learned about it before you join a discussion :S
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momentsmusicaux
Aug. 20th, 2008 06:17 pm (UTC)
No flesh-coloured thing is flesh-coloured anyway!
pickwick
Aug. 20th, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)
Well, no, but the Elastoplast in Boots are closer to my skin colour than to a Ugandan's, say :p
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rhionnach
Aug. 20th, 2008 06:19 pm (UTC)
I am fed up of being expected to accept almost anything. There is a limit to what I can tolerate. I discovered some of my limits which led to me chucking in social work years ago. I'm not PC enough to be able to put up with some of the shit that goes on and I don't see why I should have to put up with it.

Last year I had great problems through not being open enough to ideas that I found unacceptable in my then-relationship (or should that be not daft enough to allow certain things to go on?). I was criticised for that, called "bourgois" etc, but there are limits. As the saying goes, I may be open-minded but not so open-minded that my brains fall out.
caitirin
Aug. 20th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC)
Or, to butt in, I'm SICK to death of people assuming X because of Y. I'm a lesbian therefore I must be into X. Or I'm a lesbian therefore I believe Y.

GRR! That makes me angry!
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( 52 comments — Comment )

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